Start main page content

CALS condemns Uganda's "Anti-Homosexuality" Act

- Dr Sheena Swemmer

We condemn the criminalisation of LGBTIAQ+ people by the government of Uganda

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) condemns the Ugandan Parliament for passing the “Anti-Homosexuality” Act on 22 March 2023. This not only infringes the rights of members of the LGBTIAQ+ community, but also to criminalises their existence with a penalty of 10 years imprisonment should they be convicted. The Act aims to do this by creating offences which prohibit “same-sex” marriages and penalising “homosexual practices”.

The Act represents the government's egregious, discriminatory approach towards a very vulnerable group in their community and is counter to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which Uganda is a signatory. The Act must be seen unconstitutional as it contravenes Uganda’s constitutional protections of the rights to equality and freedom from discrimination and is therefore state-sanctioned homophobia.

The Act is also in direct conflict with Resolution 275 passed by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, meeting at its 55th Ordinary Session. The Resolution calls for the protection from violence and other human rights violations against persons on the basis of their real or imputed sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Resolution specifically urges states to end all acts of violence and abuse, whether committed by state or non-state actors, including by enacting and effectively applying appropriate laws prohibiting and punishing all forms of violence including those targeting persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation or gender identities, ensuring proper investigation and diligent prosecution of perpetrators, and establishing judicial procedures responsive to the needs of victims.

The legislation also violates the Yogykarta principles and State Obligations on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics.

We call on the South African government to publicly condemn the actions of the Ugandan government as South Africa explicitly acknowledges sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sexual characteristics as protected categories under section 9 of our Constitution.

We also call on the South African government to assist members of the LGBTIAQ+ community who may seek asylum because of this heinous law. This is in line with our legislative framework pertaining to asylum-seeking.

“State-sanctioned violence and the criminalisation of marginalised people does not stop with the law,” says Dr Sheena Swemmer, head of Gender Justice at CALS. “Instead, this helps discrimination and hatred spread unchecked into communities, where violence and harm against these individuals can occur with impunity.”

“The enactment of this Act is retrogressive and will curtail efforts that have been made by Uganda regarding HIV/AIDS,” says Basetsana Koitsioe, Gender Justice attorney. “The Uganda AIDS Commission has also recommended decriminalisation of consensual same-sex relations as a way of addressing stigma and increasing uptake of HIV-related services.”

For inquiries, please contact: